Debates over the best European cities are ongoing and depend on upon the season. The fall, for the poet John Keats, is the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” Trees seem to come alive, revealing a potential of reserved beauty. Everything seems balanced – it is cold but not too cold, hazy but not too hazy– quiet, relaxed, peaceful. The falling leaves show nature settling into equilibrium. You can appreciate all this in the simple act of taking a walk. If you’re searching for a perfect place to do so – these are the ten best places in Europe to visit in the fall.
York, UK: one of the best European cities to visit in the fall
Frosty early mornings can be both a tedious and wonderful thing. They wake you up sharply, yet the thick air softens everything around you. In York, UK, these types of morning are only beautiful. Cold autumn mornings compliment the charming, cobbled streets, misty river and old architecture. Students walk to York campus, over bridges covered with the colored fallen leaves. In the evening, the sunset lights up the sky behind York Cathedral. This spectrum, along with the leaves on the trees, creates an array of color on so many layers – the result is sublime.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
In the heart of Slovenia, Lake Bled is always a popular tourist destination. Its beauty is widely celebrated all year round. Yet the water sports activities and enticing waters predominantly draw people in the summer. Similarly, many travelers come to enjoy to slopes of the surrounding mountains in the winter. Lake Bled can, therefore, get busy – but the autumn months reveal its quietly blissful potential. In the fall, the church in the middle of the lake hides behind nature. The water is cold and low clouds cover the mountains. Rather than hosting its usual activity, in the autumn, this is a peaceful place of rest.
The magic of the fall mostly comes from the changing colors of nature. Yet autumnal city life is also a great thing to experience. City parks allow an escape from cold streets to forested walkways and quiet lakesides. Skopje in Macedonia is the perfect example. In the city, the long avenues become beautiful, endowed with colorful leaves. Yet the city park reveals the real beauty of the fall. Its lake shimmers with the frost. The bridges that go over it are yellow and blend in perfectly with the surrounding scenery. It gives the illusion of city and nature merging as one, making it one of the best European cities to visit.
Prague, Czech Republic
However beautiful this city is in the summer, Prague is at its best in the mysterious hazy weather that comes with the fall. The rich history gives mystery to its streets. The mists that come during autumn months only emphasize its mysterious essence. The full light of the sun softens, creating shadows on the ancient buildings. Stand at the top of Petrin Hill and watch how different layers of the city accentuate under the misty haze of the fall. It is all a bit quiet, a bit mysterious, a bit exciting.
True, autumnal colors are probably the best and most striking beauties of the fall. Yet autumn has more to offer than changing leaves. In Luosto, Lapland, tourism rises in these months, as they are some of the best times to see the northern lights. And this is one of the best European cities to do so. Travelers come to avoid the winter crowds and restrictively cold temperatures of later months. You do not get the bright trees here; you only get the blanketed whiteness of snow. However, the blazing aroura makes up for any colors you might miss. The darker skies of the fall create the perfect backdrop for the dancing lights. Constant blackness, contrasting with spectral illuminations.
Hallstatt is picturesque whatever the season. With its gorgeous lakeside setting and surrounding mountains, it is a perfect representation of the best of Austria. Houses and nature intertwine. They are small and wooden and blend artlessly with the woodland behind. In the fall, this little village gains even more character and charm. Lakes are always a great autumnal setting. The colors of the season double by the reflections of the water. Hallstatt is no exception. Indeed, it is exceptional– so small a place in such epic, consuming nature. Autumn just endorses all the great stunning qualities Hallstatt already holds.
This is not so much a city as an area of Sweden you must visit in the fall. Sweden has various beautiful landscapes to offer. Yet its most endearing is possibly its forests. Skåne County in the south has many forested lands to explore. If colorful leaves are the best things of autumn, forests are paradises. Yellow and red blanket the ground and the trees are orange. Walking through one is the best way to appreciate the fall. Do so slowly. Let your all senses become engaged in the incredible experience of merely walking.
The wild, raw nature of Ireland is best in harsher weather. Summer months beautify a land most genuine when cold and dark – in a good way. During the fall, Ireland is at its peak. The variety and ruggedness compliment the spirit of the country – tough, strong, Celtic. The leaves do not change color here as evergreen trees dominate. Nature remains faithful to the green image of Ireland. Instead, the land grows hard and epic. The terrain is hostile – and all the more uniquely beautiful for it. Glendalough is “the valley of two lakes.” It is not a city, but it is the perfect place to witness a special version of the fall.
The long avenues of Hannover guide you through a magical city in the autumn months. With straight lines of trees on either side, they become route ways through the idyllic fall image. Sometimes yellow, sometimes red, the city avenues are always striking. Colored, coved paths provide the perfect Autumnal stroll. The city itself is old and beautiful, and the colored leaves brighten the classic buildings. Just outside the city, you can find lakes and woodlands, suggestive of any Brothers Grimm fairy-tale. Wooden, secret houses hide beneath layers of fallen leaves. All is full of German magic and mystery. It is surely one of the best European cities to visit during the fall.
If the beauty of changing leaves and frosty weather does not convince you, there is always Spain. You may not find the classic autumnal images, but cities like Sevilla are beautiful all year round. The benefit of going during the fall is that you miss the summer heat and the summer tourists. These popular holiday destinations fall into a quiet, local slumber. It is easier to relax and enjoy the beauty at a slower, cooler pace. You still get the sun of the summer without the intense Spanish heat. See how the city works outside the tourist height times, and be sure to visit Sevilla during the fall.
Autumn is a vibrant, colorful season. Getting into nature – forests of falling leaves, and lakes of reflections – is the best way to appreciate it. Many cities in Europe allow space for nature in an urban environment. You undeniably must get outside to enjoy the fall. When everyone else is settling down into the winter months, travelers step out, to see places after the summer peak. So go out, into the fresh, icy air and visit these best European cities.